A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Immaculate Heart of Mary – a Personal Experience

Fr john Rea sm

Fr John Rea sm

Roy Shoeman is a Jewish convert to the Faith. He tells how early one morning, as he walked on a beach, he found himself consciously and tangibly in the presence of God. In that instant he knew why God had made him and what he should be doing with his life. Mentally he posed questions and God answered all of them in the man’s mind … all except one. God would not reveal his name.

Roy Schoeman

Roy Schoeman

From that day Roy went in search of the God he had experienced that morning. He read deeply in New Age writings but they had no answer. Although he also read the great St. Teresa’s The Interior Castle, and found it helpful, he did not explore Christianity for the answer to his question; who is God and what is his name?

Exactly one year after that walk on the beach, Roy Shoeman received another extraordinary blessing. It took the outward form of a dream. In the dream he was granted an audience with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Before him was the most beautiful young woman he could ever have imagined. Our Lady agreed to answer his questions and he asked several. To this day he remembers the excellent replies she gave. However, what he remembers most is the ecstasy of simply being in her presence and the intensity and purity of her love for him.

That night Roy Shoeman experienced love, the love of Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

St Luke refers to Our Lady’s heart twice in his Gospel. He doesn’t mean the bodily organ. ‘Heart’ for Luke is the Blessed Virgin’s intimate and unique being, the centre and source of her inner life, her mind and memory and will and love, her single-mindedness in living for God and neighbour, her wholehearted dedication to her Son’s work of saving us all. And the Lord Jesus may well have had his mother in mind when he said, “Blessed are the pure of heart; they shall see God.” Her faith was so luminous that it made her hope certain and unshakeable and the love radiating out from her heart; as St. Bernardine describes it. “ … a furnace, a furnace on fire, white hot with love for God and for everyone her Son came to save.”

The Preface of the Mass for the Immaculate Heart of Mary tells us more. God gave Our Lady a heart that is wise and obedient, gentle, undivided and pure. He made her heart steadfast and watchful so that she could endure the sword of sorrow without fear and wait in faith for the resurrection of her Son.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the Lord inflicted on the day of his fierce anger” (Lamentations 1: 12). How amazing. The sword pierced her soul as Simeon had foretold. She saw her Son suffer and die. She bore the most incredible anguish. Yet through it all she loved God and loved us, who caused his sufferings and death, with all the love in her heart. St. Thomas Aquinas’s words about the Lord Jesus in his passion apply in due measure to his mother as well. “In Christ/ Mary no mingling was made of pain and joy. But the joy was pure and the pain was pure and each at its summit.”

Modern devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart began in 17th century France. After the Blessed Virgin appeared at Fatima, and those apparitions became known, it swept through the Catholic World. On July 13th 1917, on the occasion of the third of six apparitions, Our Lady said to the seers, “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” She told the children to promote the First Saturday devotion in reparation to God for worldwide sin on a massive scale. She asked for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. She spoke of the evils in the world but predicted that in the end her Immaculate Heart would triumph.

Pius XII consecrates the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Pius XII consecrates the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

In October 1942 Pope Pius XII consecrated the human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Pope Paul VI visited Fatima once and Pope John Paul ll came twice to the shrine. Pope Benedict XVl,when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, commented on the Fatima secret. He concluded his remarks with these words. “Another key expression of the secret which has become justly famous is: “my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

What does this mean? The heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind. The fiat (“be it done”) of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Saviour into the world --- because thanks to her Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time. The Evil One has power in this world, as we see and experience continually; he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God. But since God himself took a human heart and has thus since steered human freedom towards what is good, the freedom to choose evil no longer has the last word. From that time onwards, the word that prevails is this: “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). The message of Fatima invites us to trust in this promise.”

The Fatima devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a call to conversion of heart and to penance. But there’s another side to Marian devotion, and that is to imitate the Blessed Virgin. The Marist charism is “as it were to live Mary’s life.” And that’s an ideal for all who truly love Our Lady. Our hearts may be far from immaculate but the more loving we are towards God and towards our fellow men and women the more our hearts will become like hers

An immaculate heart is what St. Thomas Aquinas used to pray for in part of a longer prayer he prayed each day.

Pope John Paul at Fatima

Pope John Paul at Fatima

“Give me, Lord God, a watchful heart which no curious thought will turn away from you; a noble heart which no unworthy affection will drag down; a righteous heart which no irregular intention will turn aside; a firm heart which no violent affection will claim for its own.”

For an immaculate heart surely there is no better prayer than this.


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